As we approach the two year anniversary of the loss of Mark, I find myself reflecting on the collection of lessons I learned from loving Mark. There are so many things that I admired about him and boy, do I wish I would have told him that more often. I really don’t live life with regrets, but if there was one, that’s it. Of course Mark knew how much I loved him. We said that every single day. Many times. But it can never hurt to tell someone why you love them so much. In fact, it’s one of the most important lessons I’ve learned. If you love someone, tell them WHY.
Over the past year, I have frequently found myself asking the question, “What would Mark do?”
So, what would Mark do? Well, first of all, he’d surprise you. From the moment we first spoke, Mark pleasantly surprised me. He definitely wasn’t who he first seemed to be from afar. During our first conversation it quickly became clear to me that his confident demeanor and outspoken nature were undoubtedly matched by his integrity, his altruism and his caring heart. Those that only knew Mark on the surface may have snapped to judgement, thinking he was arrogant, even abrasive. But spend just a few minutes digging deeper with him and you’d learn that first impressions of his sometimes bold exterior couldn’t be further from who he was in his heart. I most definitely learned from Mark never to judge a book by its cover. Talk to people. Listen to their stories and you may find something much deeper beneath the surface. When you really take the time to listen, people will show you who they really are. I have heard from countless people that when they shared a conversation with Mark, he listened. He paid attention. Mark was both interesting and interested and he would definitely make a concerted effort to understand your perspective.
What would Mark do? Mark was fiercely loyal. If you were Mark’s friend, he would move mountains for you. As soon as you gained his love and respect, he’d do anything you asked of him. He’d offer to help you move. Maybe even half a dozen times in the sleet and snow. He’d most certainly give you all the music in his entire collection. And if you happened to mention that you like to listen to your ipod in the car, he would definitely buy you that little cord that connected your ipod to your car stereo if your car didn’t have a USB port. Because you’ve never heard of that cord before, right? But Mark had. And he knew all the guys by name at Radioshack because he went back so often to buy another one for someone else he’d shared this crucial wisdom with. Mark would also give you all the names in his rolodex for anything you could possibly need, whether it was a carpet cleaner, a realtor, a travel agent, or an auto mechanic. Mark wanted you to know who he knew and to benefit from his connections. And Mark would always, always have your back.
What would Mark do? If someone did you wrong, Mark would have a lot to say about it. And he’d offer great advice about how you could handle it. And you’d probably listen to Mark. Even if it wasn’t exactly what you wanted to hear. But he’d convince you that it was.
What would Mark do? Mark had convictions and he told you about them. Often. And when it really mattered, he stood by them and he spoke up. He’d stand up in front of a crowd and speak eloquently about what he believed in his heart was right and just. Even when it was the hardest thing to do.
What would Mark do? He’d introduce you to all his friends. Several times. And he’d hope that you’d become friends too. Then he’d invite you all to a cookout. And find someone else to be the grill master. And brag about their cooking. Because he wanted to you to love it too. And then we’d go on vacation together. All of us. By the way, you’re invited too.
What would Mark do? He’d network for you. He would call old acquaintances from high school and college and connect them with friends, colleagues, acquaintances and students past and present. He grew his circle bigger and bigger and he wanted you to be in it too.
What would Mark do?
A few months ago a friend told me he’d wear that slogan: “WWMD,” he said. “I’d wear that bracelet. But…” he casually added, “…we might get ourselves into trouble if we always follow that mantra because occasionally, in a sticky situation, Mark might’ve just told someone to F off.” I literally laughed out loud, because, well, that is very likely true. Especially on the softball field! However, he’d definitely be the first one to go shake hands later and strike up a conversation to smooth things over. A man with passion, I’m sure that’s how he stole my heart.
Mark has always been my rock and my compass. And although he was taken from my life too soon, I am certain that will never change. I will never stop asking myself “What would Mark do?”
I often hear that little voice in my head, that perhaps was always there, speaking louder now. But that little voice is no longer in my head. It’s in my heart. It’s Mark. And he’s always there.